Of Millstones and Milestones

I once went on a hitch-hiking pilgrimage from England to Jerusalem staying in monasteries on the way. There were dozens of lessons to be learned about the spiritual life, but one of the simplest ones was the need for milestones. If you knew where you were headed for that one day it was enough. Along the French roads especially there were little stone mile markers, and each one was a little encouragement which seemed to say, “You’ve made it a little further. Keep hope. Look up. What’s around the next bend?  You’ll make your goal today and eventually Jerusalem.”

Each milestone was humble and grounded. Not a great billboard or neon sign. Each one spoke of the need for perseverance and progress, even if that progress was plodding. Each milestone reminded me that I wasn’t walking in circles, that there was a destination, and that I was, slowly, but surely making my way forward. Furthermore, those milestones ought to be shared. We ought to encourage one another in the pilgrimage. We should recognize and celebrate and support the pilgrims, the plodders, the ones who persevere. We ought to point out the good, share what is positive and move forward with hope and courage and good humor. So give me the milestones.

And spare me the millstones. What I mean are the millstones that ought to be hung around the neck of those who cause scandal to the little ones before they’re thrown into the sea. I’m not shooting particularly at John Corapi here, but at all who cause scandal, no matter how small. When a Catholic misbehaves–even a little– it causes someone to stumble. The damage to the priesthood and the church when there is priestly scandal just ripples out further and further. It hinders trust, it breeds cynicism and doubt. It destroys faith. It plants seeds of discouragement and despair.

When we talk up the scandals and gossip about them and express our opinions in ugly ways and fight and defend the wrongdoers or condemn the wrongdoers we please Satan. I debated whether or not to comment on Corapi at all, and waded in because I felt there were a lot of people hurting and might need some clarity. It’s over. I don’t think it’s worth it. That’s why on this blog from now on there will be no more mention of Fr Corapi or any other priests or Christian leaders who stumble and fall. Let ‘em be. Don’t give the whole mess more publicity by talking it up. You want millstones? Look elsewhere. Here there will be milestones.

John Corapi and any other wayward priests or people are in God’s hands. I’m not throwing stones at anybody. I’m not placing millstones on anybody. I want to walk on and mark the milestones and keep my eyes on Jerusalem the Golden, and my God have mercy on my soul.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05127202199834183627 Liz

    Amen!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06400691261382506978 Jenny

    Thank you, Father.Please pray for my son, Tim, who desperately needs milestones right now…Blessings

  • http://knowledgehungry.wordpress.com/ knowledgehungry

    This is wonderful, Father. The best thing I've read all morning. God bless you!Jeanne G.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13879501981487394073 Cheryl

    Thank you Father Longenecker, for being a voice in the wilderness on this issue and saying that it's time we let this go. I was thinking exactly the same thing last night and posted it on a couple of articles that I read about the Solt/Corapi issue. It occurred to me that the devil is probably grinning from ear to ear at all the discontent he is causing within the church, and is quite happy to confuse and scatter Jesus' flock. I really think it's time we put our efforts toward prayer, to pray for Corapi, SOLT and all the people who have been hurt or are confused by this issue.I just began following your blog about two weeks ago and truly enjoy your refreshing views. I especially liked your post about the dangers of becoming a celebrity priest.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06684142528414196410 JM

    "That's why on this blog from now on there will be no more mention of…"HOORAY. Let's hope other follow your example.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17970851228593550726 Lynne

    Thank you Father!


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